Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers - Expert Predictions By SBR

Swinging Johnson

Sunday, September 11, 2016 6:38 PM UTC

Sunday, Sep. 11, 2016 6:38 PM UTC

The late game of the Monday night doubleheader will feature an NFC West tilt between the Rams and the 49’ers. Let’s analyze this matchup and cover the number in our NFL picks.

Rams Make Their Case With Keenum
LA’s brass didn’t draw it up this way when they drafted Jared Goff number one overall. The highly touted blue chip prospect out of the University of California was selected as the top dog in the draft over North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. However, Wentz will be starting for the Eagles while Goff will be sitting due to an underwhelming exhibition slate. In fact, Goff was so shaky under center in his first professional preseason that he has been relegated to number three on the Rams’ quarterback depth chart behind backup Sean Mannion. Enter veteran Case Keenum for the win.

The Rams’ part-time starter last season got that job when another “better option” in Nick Foles failed to deliver. Keenum was a game manager and just serviceable enough to maintain his starting role until a concussion sidelined him for two weeks only to return and score consecutive victories over Detroit, Tampa Bay and Seattle. In five starts last season his 2015 numbers were a reflection of his career numbers as he completed 60.8 percent of his passes (versus 57 percent career) and averaged 6.62 yards per passing attempt (versus 6.64 career). Keenum found the endzone four times with one interception on 165 yards passing per game.


Betting Analysis
There isn’t a whole lot to say about the San Francisco 49’ers other than to engage in a lengthy debate about their backup quarterback’s politics. Colin Kaepernick has to be a distraction for the entire team but just how much of one is the big unknown. Their current starter Blaine Gabbert will be getting happy feet in his backfield with the relentless LA pass rushers gunning for his head on each possession.

Gabbert is 3-5 over his career as a starter and the once promising quarterback has seen his career plummet due to poor performances and ill-timed injuries. He has demonstrated flashes of the player who was picked No. 10 overall in the 2011 draft by Jacksonville but mostly he has been a spare part and now gets to begin the season as the main man under center for San Francisco.

The problem with including the Niners in your NFL Picks is that despite their home field advantage, they don’t have a Todd Gurley in the backfield like their opponents on Monday night. Case Keenum, may not be the most gifted quarterback to grace the gridiron but he is a high energy guy with the respect of his teammates. In addition, Keenum won’t have to contend with a swarming defensive front because the 49’ers don’t own such an animal. The LA offensive line will blow holes for Gurley which will keep the San Francisco defenders locked on to the ground attack. That will provide Keenum plenty of time to target the talented receiving duo of Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin. Gabbert won’t have that luxury as Carlos Hyde is no Todd Gurley and may not even be suiting up for this one as he is still suffering the effects of a concussion. The Niners offensive line is not equal to the Rams, nor is their receiving corps, their backfield, or their defense. Add to that the swirl of controversy surrounding Kaepernick’s anthem antics and it appears this is a game for the Rams to lose as opposed for the 49’ers to win.

The NFL Odds makers immediately installed the visiting Rams as a 2-point favorite and despite the influx of public money pouring in on LA, this line has moved only half-a-point. It’s almost as though the sharps are waiting for this to hit the magic number of three and then pounce. I’ve learned not to overthink these things though it does give me cause for pause when I am shoulder-to-shoulder with the square betting public. Nonetheless, we can take heart in knowing that Joe Q. Public is not always wrong - just most of the time – but not here.

NFL Pick: LA Rams -2 ½
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